Japan is expressing optimism that the international community will impose sanctions on North Korea for its July 5 missile tests. That view was bolstered by lack of progress in diplomacy across the region: a senior Chinese diplomatic mission to Pyongyang appears to have achieved nothing, and ministerial talks between the two Koreas have collapsed.
While diplomats met and some governments called for moderation in reaction to the North Korean missile tests, Japan stood firm Thursday in its demand for a United Nations resolution condemning Pyongyang.
Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Tomohiko Taniguchi told VOA News Tokyo is not backing down from its stance that any U.N. resolution must punish North
"Sanctions should be imposed upon North Korea.
Otherwise North Korea will get definitely a wrong message once again, that it could go unscathed by the international community," he said.
Sanctions are part of a draft resolution submitted to the U.N. Security Council by Japan, and backed by the United States, Great Britain and France. China and Russia are circulating an alternate draft that does not include sanctions.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe told reporters that Japan would not be pushed around by intentions to "diminish or delay" action against North Korea.
Abe says he believes a consensus is slowly spreading among the international community that it makes sense for a resolution to be adopted.
China sent a high-level delegation to North Korea earlier this week in an attempt to convince Pyongyang to return to six-party talks on its weapons programs. Pyongyang has been boycotting those talks, saying the U.S. must first lift unilateral sanctions it says are aimed at curbing counterfeiting and money-laundering by the North.
China and Russia have both said they do not think sanctions are an effective tool, and are pushing for the six-party talks to resume instead.
But U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, Washington's leading envoy on the North Korean question, said in Beijing Thursday that the North Koreans are refusing to budge on the matter, even for their long-time Chinese allies.
"I have talked as much as I can with the Chinese to see what's going on in their mission in Pyongang.
From what I understand, we don't have any new breakthroughs in Pyongyang," Hill said.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman later implicitly acknowledged that the Chinese delegation had made no progress. The world cannot look to China alone, she said, to accomplish a breakthrough.
In the South Korean city of Busan, inter-Korean talks broke down Thursday, with the North refusing to promise not to launch any more missiles, or to return to the six-party talks. The South said it would give the North no further food aid until it rejoined the talks.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's office announced Thursday that he had postponed a planned visit to Pyongyang and Seoul scheduled for later this month. Indonesian officials cited tensions over the missile launches as the reason for the postponement.